The state's new medical marijuana industry is plowing ahead with a second grow center and its third and fourth dispensaries — the first outside Hot Springs — joining the mix.
The cultivation site, Natural State Medicinals Cultivation of White Hall, is putting out its first product Friday, the company said. It is the second of five licensed medical cannabis manufacture sites.
The two new dispensary sites are in Clinton, where the state will inspect Arkansas Natural Products on Thursday, and in Helena-West Helena, where Greenlight Dispensary of Helena-West Helena, plans a ribbon cutting June 7.
Scott Hardin, a spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration, which shares oversight of the medical marijuana program through its Alcoholic Beverage Control division, offered an update on total marijuana sales numbers in Arkansas late Friday morning. He said the total had surpassed 107 pounds, more than $700,000 worth.
Natural State Medicinals Cultivation, with a high-tech greenhouse complex, offered its first products Friday at Doctor's Orders RX dispensary in Hot Springs, one of two in that city that were the state's first retailers. It and its hometown rival, Green Springs Medical, are among 32 companies that won state licenses to dispense medical cannabis, and many are expected to start opening in the coming months.
"Arkansas Natural Products, located in Clinton, will be inspected by ABC agents next week (June 6) and may open if everything required is in place," Hardin said by email. His department, Finance & Administration, oversees medical marijuana enforcement through its Alcoholic Beverage Control Division. "Delta Cultivators (doing business as Greenlight Dispensary), located in Helena-West Helena, also announced an intent to open by mid-June although an inspection date has not been confirmed. Additional inspections will be announced as they are confirmed."
Arkansas Natural Products is owned by Louis Wig, 51 percent; Ezechiel Nehus, 24.5 percent; and Stephen Shrum, 24.5 percent.
Greenlight hopes to eventually sell 35 pounds a week (about $255,000 worth at a projected starting price of $400 an ounce) of medical marijuana. The state collects a 4% excise tax on medical cannabis, which was legalized by a state constitutional amendment ratified by Arkansas voters in November 2016. About 13,000 Arkansas card-holders with qualifying conditions and a doctor's clearance are certified to buy medical cannabis. State and local entities will also collect regular sales taxes on dispensary sales.
Natural State's first crop comes in the wake of Bold Team LLC's groundbreaking first legal crop a month ago. Bold Team, which operates a $6 million greenhouse and production complex in Cotton Plant (Woodruff County), devoted part of its second crop to edibles, oils and gummies that were the first to hit shelves.
Natural State's first crop, including nine strains of medicinal cannabis, comes from the company's 35,000-SF facility in Jefferson County. Twenty different strains will eventually be available, according to Robert DeBin, co-founder and president of extraction and manufacturing. The company says the cultivation center's specially controlled environment was designed to grow medical-grade cannabis and will be able to supply the entire state.
"Our goal is to provide the highest medical-grade cannabis with purity and consistency that our patients can trust," Joseph Courtright, the company chairman, said in a news release. "We are looking forward to our partnerships with other dispensaries opening soon and putting our product in the hands of people who need and rely on it for a number of medical issues."
He added that the company has medical, pharmaceutical and business specialists from Arkansas, and that as it "navigates the medical cannabis journey, the goal is to continue developing innovations."
In Helena-West Helena, Delta Cultivators LLC has opened its medical marijuana store off Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, doing business as Greenlight Dispensary. One of the owners, Ed Pat Wright, told television station WHBQ of Memphis that he can't go about town without being asked "When are we open? When are we opening?" He plans to sell marijuana buds and products like edibles and gummies, he told the station.
Delta Cultivators is owned by John Mueller, 26.32 percent; Bart Christine, 19.65 percent; Ed Pat and Elizabeth Wright, 13.07 percent; Barry Lawrence, 13.07 percent; Gordon Cunningham, 7.63 percent; Lance Gray, 6.58 percent; Phillip Allen, 7.61 percent; Arnell Willis Sr., 3.29 percent; and Arnell Willis Jr., 3.28 percent.
By Friday afternoon, the two dispensaries in Hot Springs had sold 107.8 pounds of medical cannabis since opening May 10 and May 12, according to Hardin.
Doctor's Orders, which opened on May 10, had sold more than 37.74 pounds of medical cannabis, and Green Springs Medical, which opened two days later, had sold 70.09 pounds. The first marijuana harvest from Bold Team had been exclusively the dried buds of the marijuana plant, according to Director of Customer Relations Robert Lercher.
Doctor's Orders' sales came in 3,408 transactions. "A purchase of any individual strain is registered as a transaction," Hardin said. He said Green Springs had conducted 6,553 transactions.
"Combined, this is 107.83 pounds of medical marijuana sold through 9,941 transactions," Hardin said.